When did telling lies become the norm? And why aren’t more people concerned about how much information spread today is false? Continue reading “Fabricating our future”
Fentanyl and the New World Order
It has been a while since Iʻve written anything here and in the meantime Iʻve been elected to serve on our County Council – the local legislative and oversight body for our island of Hawaiʻi.
Yesterday the Council received a presentation by the narcotics unit of our police force on the presence of fentanyl in our communities. It was a grim discussion of course. The lethal dose of fentanyl is so minute that the police fear for their lives simply investigating crime scenes involving drugs of any kind. They asked for better protective gear to wear in such situations – basically hazmat suits.
The police officer in charge of the narcotics unit described how most fentanyl is manufactured in China, then shipped to Mexico to smuggled over the border into the US, and then brought into Hawaiʻi. A lethal doze of fentanyl is 2 milligrams and the amount of fentanyl apprehended by the police in the last year was enough to kill every resident of the island. And that is just what was apprehended.
It is a sad and horrifying situation, but it is also a strange kind of supply chain to contemplate – this axis of China and Mexico in supplying a drug of such potency to illicit drug consumers in the US. (Not all of whom sign on for fentanyl, as it is increasingly used to lace every other “recreational” drug, even relatively innocuous drugs such as marijuana.)
Chemical analysis of seized fentanyl can be linked back to a particular province in China, we were told. This degree of specificity – this tracking back into the Chinese province – makes me think of the Opium War in of the mid 19th century in which England used military force to maintain its market for opium in China, bombing Chinaʻs port cities with warships, seizing Hong Kong, and even attacking the capital city of Beijing , including the desecration and occupation of its imperial palaces. The Chinese government of the time was weak and corrupt. Civil wars in which tens of millions of people perished attempting to overthrow, or defend, the imperial order were happening contemporarily. It was a bad situation, made worse by the English and French military forcing the Chinese to legalize the opium trade.
This is not to justify the manufacture and export of illegal fentanyl in China, but the echoes of history are hard to ignore. It is not impossible, given the deterioration of relations between China and the Us, that the over-production of fentanyl is tacitly condoned. That there is even a bit of fentanyl war being waged. It is a strange world we live in, truly.
Seventh Generation vs. (sigh) ‘Longtermism’
It is said that among peoples of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederation, it was customary to have a spokesperson for future generations present for the deliberation of important decisions; someone to embody the concerns of descendants seven generations hence, at the far horizon of physical contact. (A youngster in the middle of a chain of seven generations could conceivably hold the hand of a great-great grandparent and then, in old age, the hand of a great-great grandchild.) That presence would provide emotional perspective, bringing the wisdom of hindsight perhaps, to a current challenge.
Continue reading “Seventh Generation vs. (sigh) ‘Longtermism’”
Progress throws up some startling images, and for my money this is one of them. It’s a 26-storey pig farm and slaughterhouse in Hubei, China. In the supply-and-demand scheme of things it’s probably a very reasonable development. It makes good use of technological and engineering capacity, provides for cost-efficient protein production, and could be said to have an environmentally friendly footprint compared with more land-intensive ways of growing pork. But something jars, doesn’t it? Like a sourness in the viscera. Something’s not right, and it feels like a sign. A sign, I suggest, of catastrophic disconnection.
The Cost of Living
The cost of living is determined by affordability and availability. When we say energy, food, or housing are affordable we mean that the prices charged for energy, food, or housing are within the range we can afford to pay. The amount we can afford to pay depends on how much we earn. So, first off, the cost of living is dependent on affordability, which in turn is related to access to jobs and the rate we are paid to perform a service. Affordability isn’t directly measured by availability, but if a product isn’t easily available the price will be higher. So indirectly, affordability does relate to availability. Economics has long taught that supply and demand determine the pricing of goods and services. If supply is low, the price will be high. Continue reading “The Cost of Living”
Down at the dell
A luminous void for sky, not quite white and not quite grey. Wind, and a spattering of rain. A shiny gloss on the leaves, long yearned for. And a picture-perfect setting, down here, where the trail bottoms out.
Here is where the stream emerges briefly from a tangle and pauses alongside a great, gnarly, dragon-headed log, before wandering off into further tangles. The water is still, clear and shallow; the mud-bank reddish-brown.
Standing at the edge of change
The world’s population of humans stands at the edge of rapid change and the future appears unimaginable. The greatest challenge (and danger) we face is climate change. We are faced with the undeniable fact that if we don’t stop adding green house gas emissions to the atmosphere our planet is going to overheat and the consequences are already catastrophic. In order to stop emitting green house gases we need to stop burning fossil fuels, hopefully replacing our energy needs with renewable sources. Continue reading “Standing at the edge of change”
Church forests, forest churches
If a moving image [video by Jeremy Seifert] could tell a thousand words…
Are the church forests of Ethiopia – precious pockets of biodiversity, remnants of what was once eternal set in sea of monoculture – living on borrowed time?
I’ve been wondering for a while about Ingredient X. As in, the part of us, this human animal, that marks us out from the others.
You know all those “humans are the only species to…” (use language / make war / get high / mourn our dead / have the capacity to blow ourselves up / know God / laugh-cry-blush etc.) pronouncements? Most have been overtaken by zoological findings but new ones are continually being minted (…explore space / enjoy extreme sports / watch Bridgerton etc. etc.) What they have in common is an (insecure?) assumption that something very special separates us from the rest of creation.
On Kandiaronk (The Rat): A Review of The Dawn of Everything
It is revolutionary, intellectually-speaking, to point out that the European Enlightenment – especially the suite of political ideals (liberty, equality, democracy)) that are still aspirational for most societies – was inspired by early European encounters with indigenous/native American thinkers. This is the argument that David Wengrow and the late David Graeber make in the first chapters of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity; tracing Enlightenment ideas about liberty to the interactions of French colonial military commanders with the great Wendat (Huron) leader and thinker Kandiaronk. It is the earth-shaking first chess move in the argument that Graeber and Wengrow build throughout the rest of the book, an argument that aims to show that the conventional Western theories of the “general course of human history”:
1. Simply arenʻt true;
2. Have dire political implications;
3. Make the past needlessly dull. Continue reading “On Kandiaronk (The Rat): A Review of The Dawn of Everything”